This meeting has five goals. The first is to make a better video. The second is to help the bride have a better day. The third is to resolve conflicts with other professionals. The fourth is to increase sales. And the fifth is to get to know the couple and their families so they don't feel like they're inviting a stranger to the most important day of their lives.
I want every wedding video to be my best. However, experience has taught me that much of what makes an award-winning video is beyond my control. For instance, being given enough time for creative videography; a respectful photographer or coordinator; a bride who is cool enough, warm enough, who has slept and eaten properly. If you help the bride have a better day, you'll sell more. She'll have better memories or more memories, which means more scenes that you can sell.
I have found that no other wedding professional is as motivated as a videographer to see that the bride has a wonderful experience, because our product becomes the permanent record of the most important day of her life. The more things that happen, and the better they are, means the more we have to sell.
I begin my "PRE" meeting by getting to know the couple. I ask them the details of how they met, how he proposed, and how they planned the wedding. Then I review all the events that will happen from the day before the wedding to the day after. If I hear that Grandma made the wedding dress, I try to sell a product that covers this ("Lace Opener" or "Bridal Spotlight"). If I hear a fun story of how the met, I suggest a "Love Story." I check to make sure I will have the proper time to cover what I need to, then I check the timing for other professionals; if they run short, then my time will be cut as well. I check to see that the bride will have enough time to herself. Sometimes the schedule cannot be changed, so I make suggestions to save time or speed things up, or to add more equipment or people to cover what is needed.
Other professionals tend to love me as I have made their job easier and or even up-sold an item for them. The bride receives these suggestions well, as I am offering her solutions to many problems, many of which cost nothing.
When a bride initially books me, many of her wedding day events are not thoroughly planned. For example, the dinner. Now she knows where it is, what the decorations are going to be, who is attending, and who is performing a musical number or giving a toast. And now I know the brother of the bride is going to sing a song. Perhaps her package did not include covering this at all. I can now point that out and ask, "Is your brother's song important to you?" Or, if the package was only one camera, I can explain how a second camera could now get the reaction scenes of the bride or her mother as he sings this beautiful song. I also might sell additional microphone coverage to capture his voice, the instrument, and the audience.
In this meeting, I also review the three basic groups of people at a wedding and how they are covered and not covered. Group One is the wedding party; Group Two is those who attend the wedding and dinner; Group Three is all the others who come to the reception. Of course, some weddings are so small that two or even all three groups may be the same. Then I explain how the only time in which we can be sure to capture all those people is during the formal videography. (Formal photography is often the same time, but do not call it photography, or you will confirm the principal reason for formal video not being purchased.) There is little time to cover these people at the wedding when you have to concentrate on the bride and groom. At the dinner and reception, these people can be lost in the crowd. When the bride understands our limitations with her package, this often leads to additional coverage and sales.
When it comes to resolving potential conflicts with other vendors, photographers need special attention, as they can do the most to help or hurt our production. I find that I need the bride to convey only this one line to her photographer in advance to pre-empt virtually any conflict: "Video is important to me and I expect time to be shared equally, respectfully, and professionally."
Other issues this meeting can address are making sure my videographer is fed and that our product is played properly if we're doing an SDE or other presentation. I prefer that they use my own equipment and I let them know why. I just love it when I have tried so hard to make the bride look beautiful only to have to see her squashed between two bookends or 40 pounds heavier and laterally stretched.
Even if a bride turns down every suggestion you make, she will leave a happier customer. She will understand the limitations she has placed upon you. Brides are naive about video production. They expect you to read their minds, work 15 hours without food or drink, do lightning-quick set-up and take-down, and always know something is going to happen before it does. The "PRE" meeting goes a long way to humanize the robot behind the camera.
Mike Nelson, owner of Salt Lake City-based Remember When Videos, is a WEVA MPV-certified videographer, author of multiple training DVDs including Bridal Elegance and 40 Creative Wedding Ideas, a two-time EventDV 25 honoree, and founder and past president of the Utah Professional Videographers Association.